From bylines to fashion lines

The former magazine editor Reema Ameer has merged her love of fashion design with a lifelong affair with India – and is launching her first collection of easy-to-wear separates.

Reema Ameer, a former fashion editor, with some of her new collection. Razan Alzayani / The National
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When the first of Reema Ameer’s two daughters was born in 2011, the new arrival ushered in a new career for the 33-year-old Dubai resident. Having worked for more than a decade in the competitive world of fashion media – magazines such as Grazia and Harper’s Bazaar Arabia – the British-born Ameer turned designer.

“Working as a fashion journalist in the Middle East is fascinating. People here are so open-minded and therefore experimental in their choice of clothes,” she says. “Women here think out of the box a lot more and this gave me the confidence to build my brand, based on my individual style, knowing that a wide range of people would be open to giving it a try.”

Familiar with the successes but also the shortcomings of the UAE’s fashion industry, Ameer set out to fill a void in the market. She went about designing tailored separates and wardrobe staples in prized fabrics – from ethnic silks to textiles embroidered with chikankari.

The debut collection for her label will be revealed to a select group of media, buyers and friends on Tuesday at a high-tea reception in downtown Dubai.

“I have many jackets, waistcoats, shirts and blouses, as well as trousers and shorts,” Ameer says of the ready-to-wear line. “They are all ageless basics that I hope my clients will still be wearing in years to come.”

With wearability and luxuriousness at the top of Ameer’s design priorities, she relished the process of sourcing fabrics from a place close to her heart.

“I’m inspired by India,” she says. “I have been in love with the country since I was a little girl. It is so rich in culture and history and every time I visit I fall in love with it a little more.”

Subtle nods to Indian traditional and contemporary wear are evident in her first collection, from the flash of a sequinned cuff to the flick of a metallic-threadwork collar. As for the riot of colours one might associate with the mystical land, Ameer shied away from using the entire rainbow spectrum.

“I’m a neutral kinda girl, so with my first collection it made sense for me to stick to what I know best and what I am comfortable with,” she says. “My palette is comprised of cream, grey and black with just a hint of red, green and blue.”

With no formal training in drawing or pattern cutting, Ameer has impressively produced a prodigious range of 70 pieces with broad appeal. “I totally relied on instinct and experience. And after years working in the industry, you get to know what women are looking for,” she says.

While she has finally realised a long-held dream to create a clothing line, she isn’t ruling out a return to her former career one day.

“I wouldn’t say that I’ve turned my back on journalism,” says Ameer. “I’ll always be a writer. However, I put my career on hold for a while after becoming a mother.

“I’d been designing my own clothes for years and with a lot more time on my hands post-baby, I started to explore and ­experiment.”

Family and fashion design top the agenda for Ameer at the moment and like the past two years, one continues to facilitate the other.

Along with potentially expanding her brood, she plans to open a boutique and develop the label beyond pret-a-porter.

“I plan to master RTW right now,” she says, “and perhaps in the future, I’ll try my hand at accessories – maybe when baby number three comes along!”